Why Celebrity Deaths Are Important to Mourn

by robinhardwick

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There’s already been so many great pieces written about Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and I urge you to read them. I was hit with his death really hard, and at first I thought it was simply because I loved his roles so much, and I realized that he would never appear in a film again. Perhaps selfish, but also true.

When a talented artist dies from suicide and/or addiction (not “just” a celebrity), I think about our perception of their life. They are talented, others recognize their fame, and they make money doing what they love. And often, lots of money. But somehow that hasn’t made them happy. In fact, it may have made their already tumultuous lives worse. Hoffman didn’t intend on killing himself, but addiction comes from trying to cope with demons in his life.

This also makes me think of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, which was shocking to everyone because, despite being a known depressed addict, he seemed to have it all- talent, family, recognition, a new daughter, yet still couldn’t deal with it.

Let’s break it down even further: if these people seem to have achieved ultimate success and still weren’t fulfilled, what is the point of even trying to reach it?

I recognize that this conclusion is too simplistic: of course, money can’t buy happiness and someone who is fundamentally depressed won’t ever truly be happy by these external forces. Yes, I get it. But the question still is there.

The other personal mourning for PSH comes from the roles he has played in the movies that have fundamentally changed my life and how I feel about art and relationships. And film has such an important role in my life, much beyond, “I like to watch movies.”

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So here are some of the performances that have blown my socks off.

Obviously, Scotty in Boogie Nights. Here’s a guy who truly was trying so hard but lives with a life of inadequacy.  he’s a minor character but the small gestures say so much. Of course, there’s the scene that it all builds to:

Magolia (also P.T. Anderson, who seemed to bring out the best in PSH). Hoffman’s role as an attending nurse was one of the only characters who didn’t get a back story, but still took on the character hardcore.

And then just everything in Synecdoche, New York. I barely know how to explain this movie, but jesus christ does he know how to play a depressed person.

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